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August 6, 2009 at 9:08 PM

Mariners starting pitching not nearly enough as sweep bid falls short

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Hey folks, look who it is up on the big screen. None other than former Mariners right fielder Jose Guillen. Thought that might cheer some of you up. Hey, at least it’s him with the torn up knee and not you, right?
Anyhow, Jason Vargas got torn up in that first inning and it pretty much decided this 8-2 loss before the contest ever really got going.
Seattle looked like it might make a game of things after the two-run fourth inning, but the Royals tacked on three in the fifth to win going away.
“There were a couple of balls that were hit hard,” Vargas said of the first inning. “But even the balls that weren’t hit hard that fell in, (the pitches) were just up. That’s what gave them the chance.”
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And so, Vargas made a tough in-game adjustment after that first inning and focused on getting his pitches down in the zone.
“It’s not an easy thing to do, or I would have done it in the first inning,” he sighed. “I just focused really hard on getting my pitches to stay down and this time, fortunately, it worked right away.”
Vargas also started throwing softer pitches early in the count, in a sense “working backward” from the harder stuff he threw early to hitters in the first inning. That shift helped keep the Royals off balance. He mixed in some cutters as well and by the end, he was retiring hitter after hitter on ground balls — nine in a row to end his stint.
Don Wakamatsu, as expected, paid Vargas a compliment after the game for being able to go seven innings on 108 pitches and spare the bullpen further damage.
“Obviously, giving up that amount of runs in not what we were looking for,” Wakamatsu said. “But to see a young pitcher come out an make an adjustment after that — he had 61 pitches after the (third) inning. To be able to get us through, to save our bullpen, you look at the positives.”
As I mentioned, though, the idea of this game isn’t really to spot the opponent a five-run lead before you pitch effectively, so I’m not giving out any fourth-place ribbons here. but then again, it depends on how you view things. Part of me is looking at this through the eyes of someone still counting wins and losses in 2009. If you’re looking at the devleopment of younger players, as Wakamatsu surely is, you can see that he hopes Vargas just turned some kind of corner that can help the team down the road.
Jose Lopez saw his RBI streak end at seven games. I should also mention that the stolen base attempt by Ichiro with a runner on third and one out in the fifth inning, the score 5-2, was called from the bench. It was not his decision to go at that point. So, that takes the blame off him for what happened. He could have stopped halfway and gotten held up in a rundown, but felt he had a shot at making it to second and kept on going.
The Mariners need better pitching than this out of somebody other than Felix Hernandez and Ian Snell, or they will be in deep, deep trouble this upcoming week. A team can afford a fifth starter who goes five innings. Not a No. 3, 4 and 5 starter going five innings or fewer.

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